Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 30th, 2010: News Shocker: New Jersey To Eliminate Offices Of Governor And Lieutenant Governor

December 30th, 2010: News Shocker: New Jersey To Eliminate Offices Of Governor And Lieutenant Governor

State Sen. Ray Lesniak is initiating legislation in the Senate that would eliminate the office of Lieutenant Governor and Governor, considering that “the state is working very well while Gov. Christie is in Disneyworld and Lieutenant Governor is in Mexico.”

Two years ago voters in New Jersey approved the creation of the lieutenant governor position as an amendment to the New Jersey Constitution, and Republican Kim Guadagno was elected.

Amongst the powers designated to the lieutenant governor under Article V, Section I, paragraph 6 of the New Jersey state Constitution, is the requirement that the lieutenant governor “…stand directly behind the current governor, smiling, as he or she signs or vetoes bills; leave the state of New Jersey to go on vacation when the governor does; cut ribbons at the openings of state parks or the closing of tunnels or bridges…”.

But not everyone thinks that Kim Guadagno is doing her job.

"We clearly made a mistake if we created the office lieutenant governor and wasted money if the lieutenant governor is not going to be here when the governor is out of state," said state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union). "It's being handled very well by Sen. Sweeney, but you have to really question the purpose of the office."

And a noted New Jersey academic questions the need for the transition of power, and maybe even the need for is the office of governor itself. “The requirement, in an era of instant communication, only adds to political complications when passing down powers”, said Joseph Marbach, a Seton Hall University political science professor. "It's really an antiquated policy. He's not out of contact with people, particularly because of technology," said Marbach, who is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "This is a concept that is 200 years old and really doesn't make a lot of sense in the modern era."

In an era of blackberries, e-mail, cell phones and instantaneous communication––does it really matter if we have a governor at all? Maybe it is possible to outsource the needs of our executive branch to a state whose governor does not make as much as Christie does. Christie is amongst the highest paid governors in the nation at $170,000.

“When people run for governor, they know what the salary is,” said Ingrid Reed, political scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “They’re not doing it for the money. They’re doing it for the power to do good deeds.”

“We’re trying to cut back in government spending, maybe it’s time to outsource the role of the governor to a state like Maine, where the governor is paid just $70,000. Or maybe outsource to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who takes no salary at all. We can text message our needs to Arnold, and save a great deal of money in the process,” added Lesniak.

In other news, in Florida Gov. Christie was on YouTube yelling at Donald Duck declaring that he was “...unfit to teach values to our children because he wears no pants when he goes out in public.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Festivus, New Jersey!

Happy Festivus, New Jersey!

It's that time of year again to get out your unadorned aluminum pole, and celebrate Festivus.

For those of you unfamiliar with the holiday of Festivus, "the holiday, as portrayed in the Seinfeld episode and now celebrated by many, includes practices such as the "Airing of Grievances," which occurs during the Festivus meal and in which each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him or her over the past year. After the meal the "Feats of Strength" are performed, involving wrestling the head of the household to the floor, with the holiday ending only if the head of the household is actually pinned.

And so, in the spirit of the holiday of Festivus, I share with you today how people in New Jersey politics have disappointed me over the past year 2010:

Gov. Chris Christie: How could anybody expect this Governor not to be on the list of any Democrat in New Jersey celebrating Festivus?

Losing $400 million in Race To The Top Funding. Vilifying NJEA. Yelling at teachers and reporters. Stopping the ARC Tunnel. List too long to list here. No wonder his tide is turning more than the Jersey Shore's.

Bear Hunters: What's the matter? Hunting and killing Bambi not macho enough for you? So, you need to go after Yogi and Boo-Boo?

State Senator Loretta Weinberg: For not getting elected Lieutenant Governor. I know it is heaven to have you in the Senate where you still give them hell. But, I know as Lieutenant Governor you would have done so much more than just look adoringly over the shoulder of the Governor as he vetoes bills.

Senate President Steve Sweeney: For his abstention on Marriage equality, and lack of leadership in general. Has not lived up to all the leadership hype as of yet, and is pale in comparison to his predecessor. Lots more will
be expected in 2011.

Assemblyman Alex DeCrocce: For his Scrooge-like opinion about the unemployed work force in NJ being lazy: ("I'm one of the few people here ... who feel that benefits are too good for these people,"). And he is the Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Leadership Committee? What a moron.

Wally Edge for revealing himself: This is a secret that would have survived just fine, like Dear Abby or the Dread Pirate Roberts.

The entire Republican Congressional Delgation from NJ: For being on the wrong side of history and not voting to repeal "Don't Ask/Don't Tell"---Including my own Congressman Leonard Lance. Land mines don't make distinctions based on sexuality and neither should you. Shame on you all.

The 44 folks indicted for corruption: The electeds and rabbis who went to trial this year did nothing to enhance the reputation of New Jersey corruption, and just served to help the folks who produced "The Soprano State" make some bucks.

Cast of "Jersey Shore", "Real Housewives of New Jersey": Not quite as bad as the Corrupt 44, but you are enablers of the Jersey jokes written for late night hosts Leno, Fallon, Letterman and Ferguson. Snooki, please go back to NY.

Statue of Lou Costello: For not coming to life and making us laugh all year. We needed some good laughs this year, and you were not on First.

Mayor Anna Little: For distorting Frank Pallone's record over and over again in your campaign for Congress. And for your wacky ideas on governance.

Future Ex-Congressman John Adler: For voting against the healthcare bill because he thought it would give him a win in the second term; and for having a hand (if true) in running a fake Tea Party candidate. While I was proud of State Senator Adler, Congressman John Adler disappointed me.

The entire New Jersey population at large: Over the last decade New Jersey's population grew, but at a rate much more slowly then either Texas or Florida. I am very disappointed that the New Jersey population could not distract itself more often from watching the Jets or Giants, reading the Star-Ledger or the Asbury Park Press or listening to Jon Bon Jovi or Bruce long enough to schtup more often to increase your numbers. Now the very Republican states of Texas and Florida will have more influence in Congress.

And I am sure you can add your own.

Now, on to 2011, and the Feats of Strength. Between being a legislative election year, and a year we lose a Congressman, we will need all the strength we can muster.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 12, 2010: Sen. Bernie Sanders, Hero Extraordinaire and Mensch of The Year

December 12, 2010: Sen. Bernie Sanders, Hero Extraordinaire and Mensch of The Year

Since1992, Bernie Sanders has been on my list of heroes along with such people as Ralph Nader, Thurgood Marshall, and my dad, Bernie Novick.

I first met Bernie on the streets of Burlington, Vermont ––when he was running for Congress early in the summer of 1992. I was up in Burlington, playing a comedy club and Bernie was campaigning on the streets of the town where he was Mayor from 1981 to 1989. He approached me with a big smile, and in his Brooklyn accent asked me where I stood on the issues impacting the state. When I told him I was not from Vermont but from Brooklyn, he chatted me up anyway.

I asked him for one of his campaign buttons for my dad–– (Bernie was so well known in Vermont that his button just had one word on it ––“Bernie”). I told him my dad was named “Bernie” and was also from Brooklyn, and he said to m
e, “Then he must be a good man!”

Years before, I had read about Bernie in a New York Times Sunday Magazine section article about
the “only self-described socialist mayor in the United States”. The article went on to describe how Bernie had been born in Brooklyn, and moved to Vermont and ran for mayor and beat out more well-funded Democratic and Republican candidates. Through his success as mayor in revitalizing Burlington’s downtown and his personal popularity, he served several terms.

After meeting Bernie that summer in 1992, I decided to support him in his race for Congress. And so, I organized a comedy show benefit that included myself, comedians Scott Blakeman and Henriette Mantell. The Sanders for Congress campaign arranged a location at a club in Brattleboro for October 14, 1992 (which happened to be the night of the Gore quail Stockdale vice presidential debate).

Scott is a wonderful political comedian who has worked for free for good political causes for many years. Henriette is someone you may know from The Brady Bunch movie, where she played Alice the Maid, and from her work as the co–producer of the documentary on Ralph Nader, “An Unreasonable Man”.

The comedy show only raised about $7000––but they told me that that was a sensational amount for any congressional race in Vermont.

I am still a strong supporter of Pres. Barack Obama, although I am disappointed in his continuation of several of the Bush policies including not closing Guantánamo, sending more troops to Afghanistan to lengthen that senseless war, and continuing the Bush tax cuts. Bernie Sanders has been on the right side of these issues since the very beginning.

And so, for his unwavering dedication to do the right thing and take a stand––even for eight and a half hours in his recent filibuster––I award Bernie Sanders the Mensch of The Year 2010.

By the way, he gave me the Bernie campaign button, which we have to this day.